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Summer Clerks Research Guide

Strategies and research tips for working law students

Motions and Briefs

Tip: Use the citations in motions and briefs as research shortcuts.

Unlike most law school assignments, you will not be researching from scratch. Motions and briefs are full of citations to key primary law.

  • Prioritize: start with the most important citations.
    • Consider jurisdiction, date, and issue.
  • If there is a key statute or case, see how it is discussed in a reputable secondary source.
    • In Print: check the Table of Statutes or Table of Cases near the Index.
    • Online: use part of the case name or citation as your search term.
    • Note: the Tables are usually omitted from online sources.
      • Notable exception = CEB practice guides
  • But be careful not to over-rely on the filings (see this cautionary tale from the Supreme Court).